1[1-4] These are the words of the Preacher, (Solomon), the child of David, ruler in Jerusalem. “It all means nothing,” says the Preacher; “It all means nothing, everything is worthless!” What do you get from all your hard work which you do in this world? One generation goes, and another comes; but the earth lasts forever.
[5-7] The sun rises and sets, and goes back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south, and turns around to blow to the north. It continually circles around as it blows, and returns to where it came from. All the rivers run into the sea, but still the sea never fills up. The water returns to the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.
[8-11] Everything just goes on and on, beyond saying. The eye never gets tired of seeing, nor the ear of hearing. What has been is what will be; and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new in this world. Is there anything of which it could be said, “See, this is new?” No, but it has happened long ago, in the ages which were before us. There is no memory of what came before us; nor will there be any memory of what happened later for those that are to come, among those that will come after us.
[12-16] I, the Preacher, was ruler over Israel in Jerusalem. I made up my mind to search out and find by wisdom everything that’s been done on this earth. It’s a hard thing that God has given to the children of humanity to be troubled with. I’ve seen everything that’s done on this earth; and see, it’s all worthless and like chasing after the wind. What’s crooked can’t be made straight; and what’s lacking can’t be counted. So I said to myself, “See, I’ve gotten great wisdom for myself, more than any who were before me in Jerusalem. Yes, my heart has experienced great wisdom and knowledge.”
[17-18] Yes, I made up my mind to know wisdom, and also to know what’s crazy and strupid. I understood that this was also like chasing after the wind. For in much wisdom is much trouble; and those who increase their knowledge, increase their sorrow, as well.
2[1-3] I said in my heart, “Come now, I’ll test you with happiness; so enjoy pleasure;” and see, this was worthless, too. I said of laughter, “It’s stupidity;” and of happiness, “What use is it?” I searched in my heart how to make myself happy with alcohol, my heart still guiding me with wisdom, and how to become stupid, until I could see what was good for humanity that they should do on this earth all the days of their lives.
[4-9] I made myself great works. I built myself houses. I planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and parks, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself pools of water, to water from it the forest where trees were grown. I got male and female workers, and had more workers born in my house. I also had many herds and flocks, more than all who were before me in Jerusalem; I also gathered silver and gold for myself, and the treasures of both rulers and countries. I got myself the best male and female singers, and enjoyed all kinds of musical instruments. So I was great, and increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stayed with me.
[10-12] Whatever my eyes wanted, I didn’t keep from them. I didn’t withhold my heart from any happiness, for my heart was happy because of all my work, and this was my reward from all my work. Then I looked at all the works that my hands had done, and at all the work that I had tried so hard to do; and see, all of it was worthless and was like chasing after the wind, and there was no profit in it on this earth. So I turned myself to consider wisdom, and also what’s crazy and stupid; for what can the one who follows in the steps of the ruler do? Just what has already been done long ago.
[13-19] Then I saw that wisdom is better than stupidity as far as light excels darkness. The wise see where they are going, but the stupid person walks as if in the dark, and still, I understood that the same thing happens to them all. Then I said in my heart, “As it happens to the stupid person, so it happens even to me; and why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart that this is worthless, too. For the wise won’t be remembered any more than a stupid person, seeing that in the days to come everyone will have been long forgotten. In fact, the wise must die just like the stupid! So I hated life, because the work that is done on this earth was hard to me; seeing that it was all worthless and like chasing after the wind. I hated all my work in which I worked so hard at on this earth, seeing that I would leave it to the person who comes after me. Who knows whether they’ll be wise or stupid? Still that person will have power over all of my work in which I’ve worked so hard, and in which I’ve shown myself wise on this earth. So, this is worthless, too.
[20-23] I began to make my heart sick about all the work in which I had worked so hard at on this earth. For there are those whose work is with wisdom, knowledge, and skillfulness; still they’ll leave what they’ve earned for those who haven’t worked hard for it. This is worthless, too, and a great evil. For what does a person get for all their hard work, and of the driving of their heart, in which they do on this earth? All their days are sorrows, and their work is hard; yes, even in the night their hearts takes no rest. This is worthless, too.
[24-26] There isn’t anything better for a person to do than to eat, drink, and be happy in their work. This I saw, too, that it’s from the hand of God. For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? For to the one who pleases God, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness; but to the sinner God gives the hard work of gathering and piling up possessions, that they may give it to those who please God. This is worthless, too, and like chasing after the wind.
3[1-8] For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pick what’s planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to cry, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to hug, and a time to not hug; a time to find, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear up, and a time to sew; a time to be quiet, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time to make war, and a time to mke peace.
[9-13] What profit do those who work get for the work they do? I’ve seen the hard work which God has given to humanity to be troubled with. God has made everything beautiful in its time. God has also set eternity in their hearts, still even so, they can’t find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there isn’t anything better for them than to be happy, and to do good, as long as they live. Also that everyone should eat and drink, and enjoy the good in all their work, which is the gift of God.
[14-17] I know that whatever God does, it will be forever; Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken away from it; Who has done it, so that people would show God respect. What’s happened long ago, and what’s to come has already happened long ago; and God will call to account again what’s happened in the past. Besides, I saw on this earth, in the place of justice, that evil was there; and in the place of goodness, that sin was there. So I said in my heart, “God will judge the good and the sinful; for there is a time of judgment for every purpose and for every work.”
[18-22] I said in my heart, “As for humanity, God tests them, so that they may see that they themselves are like animals. For what happens to humanity also happens to animals. The same thing happens to them all. As one dies, so does the other. Yes, they all have one breath; and humanity has no advantage over the animals; it all means nothing. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of person goes upward, or whether the spirit of an animal goes downward to the earth?” So I saw that there isn’t anything better, than that a person should be happy in whatever they do; for that is their reward because no one can make them see what will come after them?
4[1-6] Then I returned and saw all the abuses that are done on this earth; and the tears of those who were abused, and they had no comforter; and their abusers had power over them; but the abused had no comforter. So I honored those who have been dead a long time more than the living who are still alive. Yes, better than them both are those who haven’t even been born, who haven’t seen the evil things that are done on this earth. Then I saw all the work and achievement that everyone’s friends envy. This is worthless, too, and like chasing after the wind. The stupid person folds his hands together and does nothing and ruins himself. It’s better to have very little with peace than much with hard work and chasing after the wind.
[7-11] Then I returned and saw the worthless on this earth. There is one who is alone and has no family. There is no end to all of their work, and they still aren’t satisfied with their wealth. So for whom then, do I work, and deprive myself of enjoyment? This is worthless, too, yes, it’s a miserable business. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for all their work. If they fall, one will help the other up; but sorrow will come those who are alone when they fall, and don’t have anyone to help them up. Again, if two sleep together, then they’ll be warm; but how can one keep warm alone?
[12-16] If someone comes against one who is alone and overcomes them, two will withstand; and a three cord rope isn’t quickly broken. It’s better to be a poor and wise youth than an old and stupid ruler who doesn’t know how to take warning any more. Though they may even come out of prison to become a leader, they would suceed; yes, even those born poor could become great. I saw all those who walk on this earth, that they supported the youth, to take the place of the the old. There may be no end to all the people who are under that rule, but still those who come later won’t be happy with even that one. Truly, this is worthless, too, and like chasing after the wind.
5[1-5] Watch your steps when you go to God’s house; it’s better to listen carefully than to make promises to God like a stupid person, for they don’t even know that they do what’s evil. Don’t be too quick with your mouth, and don’t let your heart be too quick to say anything before God; for God is in heaven, and you’re on earth. So let your words be few. For as a dream comes with too many cares, so a stupid person speaks with too many words. When you make a promise to God, don’t delay doing it; for God isn’t pleased with stupid people who do things like that. Do whatever you promise. It’s better that you shouldn’t make a promise at all, than to make a promise and not do it.
[6-9] Don’t let your mouth to lead you into sin. Don’t protest before the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at you, and destroy everything you do? There are many empty promises that are worthless, and many words are worthless, too; but you must show respect to God. If you see the abuse of the poor, and justice and goodness being taken away violently in a town, don’t be surprised at it; for one official is overseen by a higher one; and there are superior officials over them. Besides, the food produced by the earth is for all. Even the ruler lives off what grows from the field.
[10-15] Those who love money won’t ever have enough to be satisfied; nor those who love wealth which only increases; this is worthless, too. The more money you have, the more people you have to support with it; so what advantage is there to its owner, except to look at it? The sleep of a hard worker is peaceful whether they eat a little or much; but the wealth of the rich won’t let them sleep in peace. There is a great evil which I’ve seen on this earth; some people keep so much it’s bad for them. Those riches are lost by all kinds of misfortunes, and if they have children, there isn’t anything left to pass on to them. As you came out from your mother’s womb, you’ll go again naked just as you came and will take nothing with you for all your work, which you may have had in your hand.
[16-20] This also is a great evil, that in every way that you came, so you’ll go. And what profit do you have who work, as if chasing after the wind? All your days you eat in darkness, and are frustrated, and have sickness and anger. See, what I’ve seen to be good and proper is for you to eat and drink, and to enjoy what good you find in all your work, in which you do on this earth, all the days of your life which God has given you; for this is your reward. Also, everyone to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given them long life to enjoy it, and to take their part, and to be happy in their work, this is the gift of God. We won’t often reflect on the days of our lives, because God gives us the joy of our heart.
6[1-5] There is another evil which I’ve seen on this earth, and it’s hard on people; someone to whom God gives riches, wealth, and honor, so that they lack nothing of what they want, still God doesn’t give them long life to enjoy it, but someone else winds up with it. This is worthless, and it’s like an evil disease. If someone has a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of their life are many, but their soul isn’t filled with good, and they have no one to bury them; I say, that an untimely birth is better than that one; even though they are born for nothing, and die in darkness, and their name is forgotten. Besides, the child hasn’t even seen the sun, nor known it, but it has rest rather than the other.
[6-12] Yes, though one lives a thousand years twice over, and still has too many troubles to enjoy what’s good, don’t all go to one place? All the work of a person is to feed their belly, and still the appetite isn’t filled. For what advantage has the wise more than the stupid person? What has the poor, who knows how to walk wisely, more than the other? It’s better to be happy with what you have than to let what you want destroy you. This is worthless, too, and like chasing after the wind. God knew long ago what each person would be and it was settled then; and it’s already known by God what kind of person everyone is; so they can’t argue with God who is wiser than they are. There are many worthless things in this world so what good does it do? Who knows what’s good for someone in life, all the days of their worthless life, which they spend like a passing shadow? For who can tell someone what will happen after them on this earth?
7[1-4] A good name is better than the best perfume; and your day of death is better than your birthday. It’s better to go to a funeral than to go to a celebration; everyone will die in the end, and those who are living should think about this. Sorrow is better than laughter; for by your sadness, your heart is made better. The heart of the wise considers the nearness of death; but the hearts of stupid people only think about what makes them happy.
[5-9] It’s better to hear a wise person correct you, than for someone to hear the flattering words of a stupid person. As the burning thorns are quickly spent under a pot, so the laughter of the stupid person soon fades. This is worthless, too. Truly a bribe makes a wise person do stupid things; it destroys their judgment. It’s better when something is over than when it begins. A patient person is better than a proud one. Don’t be too quick to get angry in your spirit, for anger rests in the heart of stupid people.
[10-14] Don’t say, “Weren’t the old days better than these?” For you don’t speak with wisdom about this. Wisdom is as good as getting rich. Yes, it’s even better for those who are living. For wisdom will protect you, just as money will protect you; but the best thing about knowledge is that wisdom saves the life of those who have it. Consider the work of God, for who can change what God has made? Be happy when you do well, and in the day of adversity, consider it; yes, God has made one as well as the other, so that a person can’t understand the ways of God.
[15-19] I’ve seen all these worthless things in my days; there’s a good person who dies while doing what’s right, and there’s a sinful person who lives long in their evil-doing. Don’t be too good, nor make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself trying to be perfect? Don’t be too sinful either, nor be stupid. Why should you die before your time? It’s good that you should understand this. Yes, don’t withdraw your hand from work; for those who respect God will more blessed than them all. Wisdom is stronger to the wise than ten rulers who lead a city.
[20-] Truly there isn’t a good person on earth who always does good and doesn’t ever sin. Also don’t worry about everything that’s said, because you might hear your worker speak evil of you; for often your own heart knows that you yourself have in the same way spoken evil of others. All this, I’ve proved in wisdom. I said, “I want to be wise;” but I couldn’t become wise enough. What wisdom exists, is very hard to understand. Who can find it out?
[25-29] I turned around, and my heart searched to know and to find wisdom and the reason for things, and to understand why evil things are so stupid, and that stupidity is crazy. I find the person whose heart is full of traps, whose hands are like chains, worse than death. Whoever pleases God will escape from a sinful person, but the sinner will be caught in their trap. See, I’ve found all this to be true, says the Preacher, adding one thing to another, to find out why things are; which I’m still searching for; but I haven’t found it all yet; I’ve hardly found one person among a thousand to be wise. See, I’ve found only this; that God made humans upright; but they look for many sinful things to do.
8[1-5] Who is wise? And who can interpret something? A person’s wisdom makes their face shine, and the hard lines of their face change. I say, “Do what the leader tells you!” because of the promise you made to God. Don’t be too quick to leave the presence of a leader. Don’t keep doing an evil thing, for leaders do whatever they want, and whatever the ruler says will happen. Who can say to a ruler, “What are you doing?” Whoever keeps their word won’t come to harm, and a wise heart will know what to do and when to do it.
[6-10] For there is a right time and way for everything to be done, although the misery of a person is great. No one knows what will be; No one can tell how it will happen? There is no one who has power to keep their spirit; nor does anyone have power over the day of their death. No one will get out of that; nor will sinful ways help those who do them. I’ve seen all this, and thought about everything that’s done on this earth. There is a time in which one person has power over another to hurt them. So I saw the sinful buried and also those who were good. They died and were forgotten in the city where they lived. This is worthless, too.
[11-14] Because a sentence against an evil thing isn’t executed quickly, the hearts of humanity are fully set in them to do what’s evil. Though a sinner commits crimes a hundred times, and lives long, still, I truly know that it’s better for those who respect and worship God. But it won’t be well with the sinful in the end, nor will they have long life; because they don’t respect God. There is a worthless thing which is done on the earth, that there are good people to whom horrible things happen as if they were sinful. Again, there are sinful people who seem to be rewarded as if they were good. So, I said that this is worthless, too.
[15-17] Then I decided to just be happy, because no one has anything better to do on this earth, than to eat, drink, and be happy; for that will follow them in their work all the days of their life, which God has given them on this earth. When I tried to understand wisdom, and to see whatever is done on the earth, because something is always going on both day and night, then I saw all the work of God, that no one can understand everything that is done on this earth, because even though someone works very hard to find it out, still, they won’t completely understand it. Yes, even though a wise person thinks they can understand it, they won’t be able to understand it all.
9[1-6] For all this, I set my heart to explore whether the good and wise, and what they do, are in the will of God; but no one knows whether love or hatred is in store for them. The same things come alike to all. The same thing happens to both the good and the sinful; to the good and the evil, to the fit and the unfit, to those who sacrifice, and to those who don’t sacrifice. As it is with the good, so it is with the sinner; As it is with those who make a promise, it is with those who are afraid to make a promise. The evil in what’s done on this earth, is that the same things happen to all; yes also, the hearts of humanity are full of evil, and they do stupid and crazy things while they live, and after that they die. Those who are still living have hope; as a living dog is better than a dead lion. The living know that they’ll die, but the dead don’t know anything, nor do they have any more a reward; and they’re forgotten. All their love, hatred, and jealousy has died with them long ago; nor do they have any more to do with anything that is done on this earth ever again.
[7-12] So go on about your business and eat your food with happiness, and drink your wine with a happy heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes always be clean and white, and don’t forget to rub oil on your head. Live happily with the spouse whom you love all the days of your life, which though they are as nothing, God has given them to you on this earth; for that is your part in life, and in your work in which you do on this earth. Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your strength; for there is no work, nor plan, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave where you’re going. I returned, and saw on this earth, that the race isn’t always won by the fastest, nor is the battle always won by the strongest, nor still does food always come to the wise, nor still does money always come to people of understanding, nor still favor is not always shown to people of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. No one knows when they’ll die. As the fish that are taken in a net, and as the birds that are caught in a trap, even so are human beings taken when they least expect it.
[13-18] I’ve also seen great wisdom on this earth. There was a little city with only a few people in it; and a great ruler came against it, and besieged it. Now there was a person who was wise but poor, whose wisdom freed the city; but still no one remembered that poor person when it was all over. Then I said, wisdom is better than strength. But the wisdom of the poor is hated, and their words aren’t heard. The quiet whisper of the wise is better than the loud cry of someone who rules among stupid and ungodly people. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.
10[1-7] Dead flies will make even expensive perfume smell bad; so a little disgrace outweighs wisdom and honor. The hearts of the wise are shown by the good they do, but stupid people’s hearts are known by the evil they do. Yes, even when a stupid person walks down the street, they have no sense and everyone knows that they aren’t any good. If a leader rises up against you, don’t leave your place; Staying calm puts many offenses to rest. There is another evil thing, which I’ve seen on this earth, the sort of error leaders make. Disgraceful people are put in high places, and the rich often take a low place. I’ve seen common workers on horses, while leaders walked like common workers.
[8-13] Those who dig a well may fall into it; and whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever carves out stones may be injured by them. Whoever splits wood may be hurt while they work. If the axe is dull, and the edge isn’t sharpened, then the worker must use more strength; but great skill will bring success. If the snake bites before it’s killed, then it does no good for the one who goes after it. The words of the wise are gracious; but stupid people are ruined by their own lips. The first words out of their mouths are pure stupidity; and the last words are just plain crazy. A stupid person says many things, but no one knows what will happen and what will come after them, but who can tell them anything?
[15-20] If you ask a stupid person to work, they will be too tired to do anything; and they can’t even find their way there. Sorrow will come to those whose ruler is a child, and your leaders eat first thing in the morning! A nation will be happy when its ruler is the child of noble blood, and the leaders eat in due time, for strength, and not for over indulgence! A lazy person will let the roof cave in and the house leaks. A celebration is for laughter; wine is to make us happy; and money is needed for everything. Don’t curse the ruler, no, not even in your thoughts; and don’t curse the rich even in your bedroom, or a little bird with wings may carry your voice, and tell it all.
11[1-5] Throw your seed on the rainy fields; and you’ll get a harvest after many days. Give some to seven others, yes, even to eight; for you don’t know what evil may happen on earth. If the clouds are full of rain, it falls on the earth; and if a tree falls toward the south or the north, wherever the tree falls, there it will be. Those who watch the wind won’t plant; and those who look at the clouds won’t harvest. As you don’t know which way the wind will blow, nor how the bones grow in the womb of a woman who is with child; even so you don’t know the work of God who does everything.
[6-10] Plant your seed in the morning, but also in the evening; for you don’t know which will do well, whether this or that, or whether they both will be equally good. Truly the light is sweet, and it’s a wonderful thing for the eyes to see the sun. Yes, if you live many years, be happy in them all; but remember the sad days that come, for they’ll be many. What comes is all worthless. Be happy, youngster, in your youth, and enjoy the days of your youth, and do what your heart tells you, and what you think is right; but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. So don’t bring sorrow to your heart by doing what’s evil; for youth and the dawn of life mean nothing.
12[1-5] Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw near, when you’ll say, “I don’t enjoy life anymore; ” Before your eyes can’t see the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars, and they become cloudy when you cry; in the day when your hands will tremble, and your legs will bow themselves down, and you only have a few teeth left to chew, when your eyes fail, and your jaws are shut tight; when you can’t hear the sounds of the people at work, and you wake up at the sound of a bird, and the sound of music will be faint; yes, you’ll be scared of stairs, and even taking a walk will be fearful; and your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you can’t even step over a grasshopper, and sexual desire will fail; because you go to your everlasting home, and everyone will come to mourn you.
[6-8] Rememer your Creator before your back goes out, or your memory fails, or your heart gives out, or your arteries harden, and your body returns to the dust of the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. It all means nothing, says the Preacher. Everything is worthless but this!
[9-14] Also, because I, the Preacher, was wise, I still taught the people what they needed to know. Yes, I studied, searched out, and wrote many wise sayings. I, the Preacher, searched to find acceptable words, and what was written were words of truth without fault. The words of the wise are like prods; and words from the scholars are like a well placed hook, which are given by God. Also, my child, be warned; there isn’t any end to making many books; and too much study will tire you out. This is the end of it. You’ve heard everything. Respect God, and keep God’s words; for this is the whole duty of humanity. For God will bring everything that’s done into judgment, along with everything that’s been hidden, whether it’s good or evil.